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Heritage girls cruise past Winder

CONYERS -- Early in Tuesday's game against Winder-Barrow, Aujana Dawkins left with an apparent leg injury. And though Dawkins returned and didn't look at full strength the rest of the way, it was plenty good enough for Heritage.

Dawkins had seven points, eight rebounds and four assists and five other players had at least six points as Heritage rolled past Winder-Barrow 51-15.

Heritage, which improved to 6-6 in Region 8-AAAAA and 9-12 overall, pulled away in the early stages of the third quarter.

Winder-Barrow (4-19, 1-13), which in 2012-13 has scored more than 30 points just 15 times, was held to its lowest point total of the season and didn't score until more than five minutes had passed in the third. Meanwhile, Dawkins handed out all four of her assists, two on beautiful, no-look passes, and Akila Murray had nine of her game-high 11 points as the Patriots scored the first 13 points of the quarter and led 29-6 at the 3:02 mark.

Dawkins rested in the fourth, but it hardly mattered as Heritage went up by as many as 38 points.

"She's one of our leaders, one of our captains; she makes a difference, just her presence on the court," Heritage coach Lauren Chambers said of Dawkins. "She's a threat and teams have to be aware of her with her defensive intensity, with her scoring capability, her all around threat as a player."

Neither team could get anything going offensively and it made for a sluggish, low-scoring opening period. Winder-Barrow took the first lead of the game, 1-0 on a free throw by Adrianna Davis with five minutes left. The Bulldoggs went scoreless the rest of the quarter, while Heritage's full-court pressure helped force 10 turnovers.

"I was thrilled with their defensive effort tonight," Chambers said. "I could not ask for a better defensive night, the pressure looked absolutely great tonight."

While the defense took care of things on one end, Heritage finally got on the scoreboard when Breanna Saunders (10 points, six rebounds) hit a bucket more than four and a half minutes into the game, and the Patriots controlled the remainder of the game.

Morgan Tatum (eight points), who assisted on Saunders' basket, had a field goal of her own. Murray and Jada Cost followed with jumpers to make it 8-1 after one.

In the second, Winder's turnover problems (six more in the quarter) and inability to score allowed Heritage to pull away. The visitors picked up their first field goal of the game at the 5:11 mark, but didn't score again until promising sophomore point guard Shakari Smith banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut Winder's deficit to 16-6 at halftime.

In between, Dawkins left the game with 4:41 remaining in the first and didn't return until the second began. Dawkins wasn't at full speed, but still hit a jumper off a pass from Damali Thomas, one of the sophomore's five assists, and following Saunders' putback, Dawkins had a conventional three-point play to put Heritage up 16-3 with just under three minutes left until halftime.

The boys teams from Heritage and Winder-Barrow played in the nightcap, which ended too late for this edition.